Religion

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Sigmund Freud

Freud renounced the Jewish religion of his parents -- though not his Jewish identity -- and considered himself an atheist.

Freud regarded monotheistic forms of religion as the sign of a highly developed state of civilization.

Freud thought that all religions were barriers to cultural progress, and thus argued that they should be abandoned iin favor of science.

Reality and Delusion

Freud argued that religions were an attempt to protect oneself against suffering by "a delusional remoulding of reality," and thus concluded that they "must be classed among the mass-delusions" of humankind.[1]

Freud saw the idea of God as an expression of an infantile longing for a protective father.[2]

Freud described religion as a "universal obsessional neurosis."[3]

Jacques Lacan

Jacques Lacan also considers imself an atheist, having renounced the Catholic religion of his parents.

Like Freud he opposes religion to science, and aligns psychoanalysis with the latter.[4]

Lacan states that the true formula of atheism is not God is dead but God is unconscious.[5]


Lacan's discourse abounds in metaphors drawn from Christian theology.

The most obvious example is surely the phrase the Name-of-the-Father, which Lacan adopts to denote a fundamental signifier whose foreclosure leads to psychosis.

The changes wrought by the symbolic are described in creationist rather than evolutionary terms.

In the seminar of 1972-3, Lacan uses the term 'God' as a metaphor for the big Other, and compares feminine jouissance to the ecstacy experienced by Christian mystics such as St Teresa of Avila.[6]

  1. Freud. 1903s. SE XXI. p.81
  2. Freud 1927b.
  3. Freud. 1907. b.
  4. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p.265
  5. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p.59
  6. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore, 1972-73. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1975. p.70-1